Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited: Do You Want Maximum Rewards, or Simple Cash Back?

We want to help you make more informed decisions. Some links on this page — clearly marked — may take you to a partner website and may result in us earning a referral commission. For more information, see How We Make Money.
Good for Rotating Quarterly Categories
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Learn More externa link icon
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
Rewards rate:

5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter! 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Good for Flat Cash Back on Every Purchase
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Learn More externa link icon
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
Rewards rate:

Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more;. 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service. 1.5% on all other purchases.

Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
  • Intro offer:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    15.24% – 23.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Rewards rate:

    5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter! 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Intro offer:
    Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    15.24% to 23.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Rewards rate:

    Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more;. 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service. 1.5% on all other purchases.

Pros and Cons
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Extensive tiered rewards structure
  • Rotating bonus rewards categories every quarter
  • Valuable welcome bonus offer
  • 0% introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers
  • No annual fee
Cons
  • High ongoing APR after intro period
  • Rotating quarterly bonus categories capped after $1,500 in spending
  • Keeping track of rewards categories may be more complex than some other cash back cards
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Flexible, hybrid rewards structure made up of tiered categories and flat cash back
  • No annual fee
  • Valuable first-year bonus
  • Competitive intro APR period can be useful for paying off large purchases over time
Cons
  • Not a great choice for international travelers — you’ll incur a 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Travel bonus rewards only apply to travel booked through Chase
Additional Card Details
Additional Card Details
  • 0% introductory APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers (15.24% – 23.99% variable APR thereafter) ; intro balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days
  • 5% cash back on qualifying Lyft rides through March 2025
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Cell phone protection
  • Free credit score and monitoring
  • Access to Chase Offers savings
Additional Card Details
  • 0% introductory interest offer on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after account opening, variable 15.24% – 23.99% interest thereafter; intro balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2025
  • Complimentary 3-month subscription to Doordash’s DashPass, followed by 50% off DashPass for 9 months (activate by 12/31/24)
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protections
NextAdvisor’s Take

The Chase Freedom Flex and the Freedom Unlimited cards are very similar — both have no annual fee, an introductory 0% APR offer, and matching rewards on travel booked through Chase (5%) as well as dining and drugstores (3%). However, while the Freedom Flex provides 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in quarterly bonus categories (then 1%), the Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5% on every non-bonus category purchase. If your spending aligns with the Freedom Flex’s rotating categories, it may help you maximize more spending. But if you want to earn more on every purchase without having to think about categories, the Freedom Unlimited card can be a better choice.

Cash back credit cards can add serious value to your wallet, but maximization depends on choosing the right card for your spending habits. That’s especially true if you’re trying to decide between the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® — two of our favorite picks from the issuer.

Both cards offer the same 0% APR introductory offer and no annual fee. You’ll also get many of the same rewards, including:

  • 5% back on travel booked through Chase
  • 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2025)
  • 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases.

Where these cards differ are the ways you can really maximize spending outside these categories. The Chase Freedom Flex gives an additional 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly bonus categories (then 1% back) and 1% back on all regular spending. Meanwhile, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a flat 1.5% back on regular, non-bonus purchases.

The best Chase Freedom card for you comes down to whether you value simple, flat cash back rewards, or don’t mind a little extra tracking to score a bigger rewards bonus. Here are more details about these cards to help you decide:

Side-by-Side Comparison

Chase Freedom FlexChase Freedom Unlimited
Annual Fee$0$0
Welcome Offer$200 bonus cash when you spend $500 within three months of account openingEarn an additional 1.5% back on everything you buy, up to the first $20,000 spent in the first year
Cash Back Rewards• 5% back on travel booked through Chase

• 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2025)

• 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases

• 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly bonus categories (then 1% back)

• 1% back on other purchases
• 5% back on travel booked through Chase

• 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2025)

• 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases

• 1.5% back on other purchases
Introductory Offer0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 15.24% to 23.99%, intro balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 15.24% to 23.99%, intro balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days
Other Benefits• 3 complimentary months of DashPass membership.(must be activated by 12/31/24)

• Purchase protection

• Extended warranties

• Auto rental coverage, trip cancellation and interruption insurance

• Cell phone protection and other World Elite Mastercard benefits 
• 3 complimentary months of DashPass membership (must be activated by 12/31/24)

• Purchase protection

• Extended warranties

• Auto rental coverage, trip cancellation and interruption insurance

Bonus Comparison

Chase Freedom Unlimited has a potentially higher welcome bonus, but the offer is spread out over the first year. After you’re approved, you’ll get an additional 1.5% back on every purchase up to the first $20,000 spent in the first year. That essentially means you’ll earn 3% or more back on every purchase for the first year, until you reach the $20,000 cap. The 1.5% bonus is worth up to $300 cash back.

With Chase Freedom Flex, you can earn $200 in bonus cash when you spend $500 within three months of account opening. That’s equal to just $167 in monthly spending for the first three months after you’re approved.

Rewards Comparison

Both Chase Freedom cards grant 5% back on travel booked through Chase, 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2025) and 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases. 

The Chase Freedom Flex is a better option for people who want to maximize rewards in special bonus categories. It offers added rotating bonus rewards categories every quarter; often, these categories include things like streaming subscriptions and gas stations, or specific merchants like Walmart or Amazon. 

You’ll earn 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly bonus categories, which you must activate each quarter through your online account. That means for a total $6,000 in spending in these rotating categories, you could earn a maximum $300 back per year. After reaching that max each quarter, you’ll earn 1% back, along with 1% back on any spending that falls outside of rewards categories. 

On the other hand, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a flat 1.5% back on regular, non-bonus purchases. This makes this card a better option for people looking for simplicity; you can earn rewards on all your purchases without worrying about bonus categories or earning caps.

However, to reach the same $300 cash back amount as the Freedom Flex via the Freedom Unlimited 1.5% flat cash back, you’d need to spend at least $20,000 annually in categories that don’t fall into these cards’ combined categories — travel booked through Chase, Lyft rides, dining, and drugstores.

Pro Tip

Pair the Chase Freedom Flex or the Chase Freedom Unlimited with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve for boosted rewards redemptions, and transfers to Chase airline and hotel partners.

Ultimately, the Chase Freedom Flex offers more rewards value for less upfront spending. But it takes a bit more work to earn, and your spending may not always align with rotating categories. What’s more, these categories are difficult to predict or build into your budget, since Chase releases new categories quarterly. While Chase Freedom Unlimited may not have as high a rewards rate, guaranteed 1.5% cash back on every purchase is both competitive and much simpler for day-to-day tracking.

APRs

Both of these cash back credit cards come with the same introductory offer — 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 15.24% to 23.99%. 

If you use either card for a balance transfer, you’ll pay an intro 3% balance transfer fee or $5 of the amount of each transfer in the first 60 days, whichever is greater. After that, the balance transfer fee goes up to either 5% or $5.

Cardholder Benefits

The Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited come with more benefits than most cash back credit cards, although the Chase Freedom Flex wins here.

Both Chase Freedom cards offer three complimentary months of DashPass membership (must be activated by 12/31/24), purchase protection against damage or theft, extended warranties, auto rental coverage, and trip cancellation and interruption insurance. 

But the Chase Freedom Flex is a Mastercard, and offers a range of World Elite Mastercard benefits that don’t apply to the Freedom Unlimited. These include cellphone protection worth up to $800 per claim (maximum two claims per year), free ShopRunner membership, a $5 discount when you take at least three Lyft rides in a month, discounts at Fandango, World Elite concierge service, 5% back on HelloFresh orders, and more.

Fees

While neither card charges an annual fee, they both charge a 3% foreign transaction fee when you use your card for purchases abroad. 

Other fees include the intro balance transfer fee (3% or $5 of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days) and late payment fees and returned payment fees of up to $40. 

Learn More externa link icon
Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro offer:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    15.24% – 23.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Learn More externa link icon
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro offer:
    Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    15.24% to 23.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Learn More externa link icon
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Editor’s Score: (4.5/5)
  • Intro offer:
    80,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $95
  • Regular APR:
    16.24% – 23.24% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site

Deciding Between Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited

These cards are very similar, and both offer great rewards and perks. In short, either of these cards could make a valuable addition to your wallet. 

The biggest detail to consider is whether you are willing to put in the work to earn 5% back in quarterly bonus categories (up to limits), or whether you prefer a simple flat 1.5% back on everything you buy. 

If you’re someone who wants to maximize bonus categories and your spending aligns with previous rotating quarterly categories, the Chase Freedom Flex could be ideal. If you love simplicity, on the other hand, the higher rate of 1.5% on all regular purchases with the Chase Freedom Unlimited could be a better pick for you.

At the end of the day, the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited are two of the top rewards cards out there. As long as you practice good credit habits and pay down your balance each month, you can’t go wrong with either one.